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Friction ahead of three-way Middle East talks


Friction ahead of three-way Middle East talks

Three-way talks are due to take place today between the US, Israel and the Palestinian authority. But the meeting in Jerusalem – billed as an attempt to revive long-stalled peace talks – has already been overshadowed by friction over the recent Palestinian power-sharing deal.

No joint news conference is planned – a sign, observers say, that expectations are low. Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh told supporters in Gaza City that he is expecting support for the unity government when it is presented in the near future:

“We reject the American and Israeli pressures which are being practised against our people and against the government and which want our people to deny the Mecca agreement and to return to the starting point. This is the will of the Palestinian people and they have either to respect the will of the elections or respect the will of the agreement.”

Earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said neither he nor the US would work with the new administration unless it recognises Israel, renounces violence and abides by existing peace deals.

The Quartet of Middle East negotiators – the US, the EU, the UN and Russia – has set the demands as a condition for lifting crippling international sanctions.